Apps influence nearly all segments of our daily life. They have also revolutionized how we find jobs, where we work, and how we do our tasks. The gig economy comprised of all the apps altering the way people work creates not only opportunities (like flexible work hours) but also challenges for the individual. Some of the issues, like the lack of insurance, have already been addressed by some companies, and they have begun to implement new policies to provide better work conditions for independent contractors using their platform. What companies push for are portable benefits that are not tied to one company or a specific job. It would allow workers to enjoy them even if they are not working. However, nothing concrete has been written into law yet.
Here come 11 benefits you may get as an independent contractor
- Health insurance
- Accident insurance
- Low-cost medical, eye, and dental insurance options
- Assistance with time management, contract creation and invoicing
- Tax assistance
- Student loan assistance
- Free membership with care provider platforms
- Career growth
- Integrating with the regular employees
- 1099 status
- Portable-benefits app
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash. What was your first app job?
1. Health insurance
Many Americans don’t have health insurance. And while many online platforms diversifying the gig economy require proof of it, some have in fact taken the initiative to help people interested in joining their site find the best insurance option. One of the most popular companies is Stride Health which have already partnered up with DoorDash, Uber, Etsy, Postmates, etc. Stride charges a certain percentage of your earnings as a commission fee.
2. Accident insurance
Even if someone is cautious enough, workplace accidents can happen. But what if your workplace is not fixed but ever-changing? For example, on-demand delivery drivers pick up and drop off food and other types of goods in various parts of their cities. Whereas many online platforms specializing in delivery set health insurance as a requirement, not all of them. And not all delivery drivers are insured. Instacart’s Shopper Injury Protection insurance addresses this issue and aims at protecting contractors while they’re on the clock.
3. Low-cost medical, eye, and dental insurance options
Once in a while we must deal with our fear of doctors and go for a medical, eye or dental check-up. In a country like the USA where many people struggle to pay the high cost of medical bills, discounts received can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Instacart, Lyft, DoorDash, and Uber have already been partnering with an insurance company offering low-cost medical, eye, and dental insurance options.
4. Assistance with time management, contract creation and invoicing
Creative and other specialized professionals enjoy the benefits of being freelancers, however, many people start out as a part-time freelancer only—to find out whether or not they could succeed as such. Embracing the idea of working independently and taking full responsibility for one’s tasks may not happen so easily. Not to mention the huge competition freelancers face: they compete with their peers in their home country and all over the world. In order for you to make it as a freelancer, you must have discipline (to meet deadlines), talent and financial know-how. With the help of third parties, Fiverr set out to lighten its freelance members’ burden.
5. Tax assistance
Independent contractors usually don’t receive any help when filing their taxes—although some companies send the necessary document called ‘Form 1099’ to workers. Yet that doesn’t replace a great accountant who gives you tips about what you can deduct from your taxes. Fiverr, an online portal connecting freelancers and clients worldwide, has partnered with other companies to make the tax season more pleasant for freelancers (and independent contractors). Postmates has rolled out a similar program. Whatever gig jobs you’ve taken up, find out what costs you may deduct. After insurance (for gig workers) comes taking care of your taxes as a priority.
6. Student loan assistance
Student loan debt is affecting not only young people but also the members of older generations in the US. Every now and then a new shocking number is reported. Swimming in debt may cause stress and negatively affects one’s life, hindering them from enjoying any moment of their life. You may feel the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head. In recent years, the voice calling for forgetting student debt is getting stronger and louder. It’s worth following the news on this issue. As for now, student loan assistance programs welcome gig workers to counseling sessions. Eligible Instacart shoppers will have the opportunity to sign up for Peanut Butter, for instance.
7. Free membership with care provider platforms
Some families, especially single-income households, may find themselves in a situation where they urgently need to find a babysitter, a senior or special care provider, or a pet sitter. For example, Instacart has introduced new perks and Instacart shoppers are given free membership to Care.com. Apart from care services, gig workers (in this case shoppers) can have access to cleaning and tutoring services as well. Even if you enjoy learning with your child(ren), some help would certainly come in handy sometime.
8. Career growth
Whether you continuously train yourself or attend a course/workshop or something similar once in three years, personal development plays a vital role in your career growth. Uber has established a partnership with Arizona State University where eligible drivers receive 100% tuition coverage to pursue undergraduate degree programs, take English-language courses, or learn about business as part of the entrepreneurship program. Online. Postmates’ Flexible Toolkit also intends to contribute to the career development of gig workers, besides giving access for them to other benefits.
9. Integrating with the regular employees
Have you ever attended a welcome summer party at your workplace? Even if your gig job is your first job, you perhaps have seen some movies and TV shows in which the employees gather together to celebrate birthdays, Christmas, etc. While independent contractors are destined to work on their own, look out for events your chosen online portal may organize to invite their regular employees and contractors working with them.
10. 1099 status
Some states, such as Washington, California, New York, and New Jersey, have started to contemplate how to provide more benefits for gig workers. The idea behind the 1099 status is that states would determine an amount gig companies should pay to cover industrial insurance. Additionally, platforms would contribute either 15 percent of what a consumer pays per transaction or $2 for every hour while workers providing services, whichever is lesser. The money added up would cover various benefits chosen by the benefit provider but with input from the worker. Read up on the latest legislative changes if you live in Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, etc.
11. Portable-benefits app
It’s called Alia, and Thumbtack has launched a pilot program with them. We mentioned portable benefits in the introduction, and the 1099 status also plays with the idea of something similar. The app was developed for cleaners specifically to provide them with paid time off, for example. This is how it works: Clients can contribute at least $5 per cleaning, and each cleaner can use their funds to redeem a range of benefits. In case the pilot turns out to be a success, other gig workers may get to use it as well.
More & Bigger Changes to Come?!
Odd jobs have been around for ages. Thanks to digital technologies, these jobs have come under the same umbrella, and then the gig (or sharing) economy was born. In the last decade, we’ve also seen old jobs disappearing and at the same time new ones appeared on our virtual map of jobs. The changes affecting our everyday life happen so fast that sometimes it’s hard to keep up. States, responsible for systemic change, tend to fall behind. They have started creating a legal framework for gig (including app-based) jobs but everything goes quite slowly. As more and more people turn to apps to do some side hustling, get a part-time job, or build a career as a full-time freelancer, policy- and lawmakers need to take into consideration them as well.
Thanks to the increased number of gig workers, the pressure on companies is also growing. Many of them have already pledged to provide better conditions and basic benefits for independent contractors working with them, and, hopefully, more follow suit. Today it’s insurance for gig workers, tomorrow other perks and benefits will be presented. Learn more about the companies operating in the gig economy by visiting Appjobs.com. Be a part of the changing world!
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